Health & Wellness Lifestyle

Motherhood Realness: 6 Months Postpartum (Sleep Training Failure)

June 15, 2018

This past month was a special month, not only did Theodore turn 6 months old, but I also celebrated my first Mother’s Day! It’s hard to believe that it’s only 6 months since this butterball came into the world. He is growing and has such an amazing personality already!

He is so much more aware now and very cautious which I think is a great thing. He is super observant and evaluates his surroundings carefully before acting. He also loves being close to us and is always watching to make sure we’re there. When we take him on walks with a stroller he will open one eye just to make sure we are still there and then he can go back to napping. If we aren’t, then the screaming starts. I totally get it, he’s completely dependent on us so if we’re not around I can imagine it being scary for him.

For Mother’s Day, my boys took me out for afternoon tea at this cute hotel, MJ, in Malmö. I had been here two years ago when I was looking for a hotel for our guests for our wedding and it didn’t look like this at all. They recently had a new owner that did a complete remodel of the hotel and it looks great!

The boys gave me such a special gift to remember my first Mother’s day, a gold diamond band with Theodore’s birthdate engraved inside. I wear it stacked under to my wedding rings.

Theodore also started eating solids this month which has been so much fun for both of us! I’ve been waiting to use my baby cook for over a year since I bought it when we found out I was pregnant. I just always wanted to cook for him and feed him.

Thankfully, he’s a good little eater and eats up almost everything I’ve served. So far he doesn’t like zucchini, is okay with broccoli and loves sweet potatoes and carrots. I can’t wait to make other things for him to try. My hungry little monster.

This month I learned the harsh reality that even the most carefully laid out plans can go awry, especially when your baby has different ideas in mind! I am guilty of being one of those mom that thought they had everything planned and would execute those plans with Tiger Mom fierceness when the baby came. How wrong I was. I had read so much about sleep training and about how important it is to get your baby sleeping through the night that by 3 months I was ready to start. Well, my dear son had other things in mind like a growth spurt that changed his sleeping habits for the worst. There are so many things that my pregnant self said I wouldn’t do, but ended up doing. For example, the pacifier… I said I wasn’t going to give the pacifier to him early on… the reality – he was sucking on that thing after the first 2 months. Daniel also had ideas of his own, he didn’t want to swaddle the baby since in Sweden it’s not a common practice. So for the first 3 months we struggled every night to get the baby to sleep. At one point I said enough is enough and swaddled him, he fell asleep right away and was snug as a bug. We continued swaddling him until he outgrew the swaddle.

So my expectations were very different from our reality, especially when it came to sleep training. I will say that sleep has been the hardest part after the delivery and breastfeeding. Now I know why sleep deprivation is used as a torture tactic because it works and you literally go insane. For the past 6 months I’ve been more or less a walking zombie. We’ve tried many different things and taken EVERYONE’S advice, but we are failing when it comes to getting Theodore to sleep through the night. He has, on occasion slept 6 or 8 hours straight, but that is rarely repeated the next night. Two weeks ago, I had reached my limit partial from being so exhausted, but also fearing that my poor baby will be a poor sleeper for the rest of his life, so against Daniel’s wishes, we let him cry it out.

I know at least 4 people that have used this method to get their baby to sleep and they have each said that it changed their lives once they were able to get it going. They told me that it’s excruciating to hear your baby cry for so long, but it is worth it because you have a more rested baby that can self soothe in the middle of the night. Great! So we did it, for one night and it worked. By the time we deployed this method we were 3 hours in trying to get him to sleep with our old methods (stroller, car seat, baby carrier…etc), but nothing worked. I could tell Daniel was angry with me for doing this to our child since he felt it was harsh, but nothing we were doing was working. So I sat with a stop watched and let my baby cry and cry and cry. I nearly cried along with him and prayed that he would just sleep from exhaustion to end all of our misery. And he did…after half an hour with multiple one minute visits from me, he was too exhausted to fight and fell asleep. A part of me felt triumphant that it had work and faster than I had thought, but a bigger part of me felt terrible. They say this method isn’t for everyone and it wasn’t for us. Daniel and I went to bed distraught and him a bit mad at me, but at the same time I think a little impressed that it worked. Theodore woke up only once that night to nurse so it was a “good” night.

When I woke up the next morning I received an email from Daniel pleading to try something other than this method. He promised he would put the baby to sleep every night now so that I could get some rest. He didn’t feel this method was the best one for us. He said the words I’d been waiting for without knowing it. He let me off the hook to keep going with “my plan” and to give him some responsibility for his sleep. Mothers have it rough and it’s a bit unfair. We are the caretakers, the feeders, the nurturers, the teachers and also the ones that gets the blame/shame if things fail. All I want is for Theodore to sleep well so he can grow and continue to be happy. He wakes up everyday with a smile and it literally melts my heart. But every night that we fight and I can’t get him to sleep makes me feel like a failure or that I’m not doing something right.

The reality is, I’m a tired new mom that is just trying to keep it all together when it comes to her baby, her husband and other relationships. My type A personality didn’t let me accept the fact that maybe Theodore isn’t ready to be sleep trained or that it’s okay if he still wants to sleep next to me. Also, my weirdness about asking for help from others like Daniel’s family. I only ask them when it’s absolutely necessary, otherwise, I try to do it on my own. I know I need to change this, but I’ve also realized it’s about boundaries and what I’m able to let go of and it needs to be on my terms for it to feel comfortable. Daniel tries to help me, but if the stroller or rocking of the car seat doesn’t work he isn’t able to put the baby to bed. It’s frustrating at times because then it becomes my sole responsibility again to put the baby down and it starts to wear on me.

So for the past week we’ve tried something different. We start the evening with a bedtime routine which consists of a bath, diaper change, pjs, story time and the last feeding for the day. From there I’ll let him sleep in his crib, but I stay close because he often wakes up to see if I’m still there. Once I know he’s hit his deep sleep then I go to bed. He usually wakes up again after midnight and then I bring him to our bed.

He wakes up several more times throughout the night but doesn’t cry, I pull him close and he nurses and falls back to sleep. In the morning he wake up with a smile. I don’t get much sleep, but I’m glad I’m not running back and forth from our room to his. So this month was a big month for me in the sense that I allowed myself to deviate from my plan and accept that he may not always go the way I want him to, but that’s okay. I need to follow his development and what he can handle. Like someone told me, he won’t be sleeping in my bed when he’s 18, so just enjoy it while it lasts. The most important thing is that he’s still a happy, healthy smiley baby and that’s all I’ve ever wanted for him.

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